Trailing by just one point after a Cuyahoga Heights four-point play, Lutheran West’s Jalen Barnes didn’t hesitate. With less than 10 seconds left at home Tuesday, Barnes, who earlier this season notched his 1,000th point, pulled up from the top of the key and knocked down a three, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
After holding the Redskins to 1-of-2 free throws on the following possession and not allowing them to get a shot off with under a second left, the Longhorns secured the 49-48 victory, their first at home this season.
“We’ve had a couple of these 50/50 games (this season),” Lutheran West coach Nicholas Gallo said. “I’m proud of our guys. We gotta continue as a young group. A lot of guys on our team haven’t played varsity before. For us to finish and win these games, it’s a good win for us.”
Barnes went on to be the Longhorns (6-4, 5-3 Chagrin Valley Conference) and the game’s leading scorer with 18 points. Fourteen of those points came in the second half, following a slow first two quarters where he scored just four points. In the third, the senior was responsible for all 11 of Lutheran West’s points and kept the Longhorns up 36-33 going into the final frame.
Gallo said that late contribution spoke to Barnes’ growth and composure to stay involved offensively throughout the game when he isn’t scoring. Barnes added four assists, five rebounds and three steals.
“Before the game we talked about staying poised, keeping our composure even through adversity and that’s one of the key things that I want to work on,” “If we get in those situations, stay positive and regroup.”
The final seconds of the game were a microcosm of the game as a whole as the lead went back-and-forth with both teams trading baskets and long runs at different points. Lutheran West opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to increase its lead to 40-33. Cuyahoga Heights (5-6, 5-3 CVC) quickly chipped away at the lead, getting it down to 44-43.
Following another Longhorn field goal that put them up 46-43, Cuyahoga Heights’ Devon Patel made his first three of the night, after going 0-for-3 previously, and was fouled. Patel knocked down his one free throw and gave the Redskins a brief 49-47 lead before Barnes’ fateful 3-pointer.
Jimmy Browning was Lutheran West’s second-leading scorer with 12 points, followed by Tyler DeSimpelare with eight and Tyler Robinson with six. Kyle Pollack led the Redskins, tallying 16 points (4-of-7 from three) and seven rebounds. Behind him were Curtis Davis (11 points, 10 rebounds), Bryan Washko (eight points, three rebounds) and Ryan Selig (seven points, four rebounds).
With the first half of the Longhorns season coming to a close, Gallo is hopeful that the second half will be kinder to his team at home. In Lutheran West’s first nine games, the Longhorns had just three at home. In their final 13, they have eight at The Rock.
“I think it’ll help us,” “It’s been kind of a weird season. As we continue to grow, I think there are some opportunities for us to win some games but we’re just taking it one at a time.”
The Longhorns play their second of three-straight home games at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Wickliffe.
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